The surprise film of the East Asia Film Festival this year is Vision starring Juliette Binoche, Masatoshi Nagase and Takanori Iwata is definitely a surprise.
The story follows journalist Jeanne (Binoche) as she travels to Japan to find Vision, a rare, almost mythical herb that will cure humans of all weaknesses as well as spiritual anguish. At this remote location within the forests near Nara she meets Tomo (Nagase). He is a recluse and is hard to talk to. The language barrier doesn’t help but eventually, they come to an understanding and their relationship evolves from there as the story progresses.
During the course of this film, Jeanne tries to figure out when she can find this herb. All the data states it will show up under certain circumstances and these parameters are oddly lining up. One particular element is that Aki (Mari Natsuki) an elderly neighbour of Tomo’s states that the time is near.
As all these of these elements align tragedy does also rear its ugly head and there are so many questions that you’re not sure whether this is all chance or there is something more ethereal happening behind the scenes.
Once in 1,000 years it is near
Much like Vision and all the stars aligning for it to release its spores much of the elements of the film line up well. The cinematography is stunning. The forests and mountain range seen in the film looks phenomenal. Director Naomi Kawase and cinematographer Arata Dodo make the scenery shine.
Late in the film as the Vision edges closer to releasing its spores the forest looks like it is infected with a different kind of life and this is showcased with the natural changing of the seasons. Simply put aesthetically Vision is a vision, sorry I had to.
There are several elements that don’t quite make sense as they are introduced. Mainly involving characters and their motivations. For example, just at the start of the second act, we’re introduced to a new character named Rin (Takanori Iwata). When he is introduced I wasn’t sure for the reason for his placement in the film.
Several potential plotlines popped into my head. Would he be a love interest for Tomo or Jeanne? Would he bring further tragedy to the forest? I wasn’t sure it would work. Ultimately much like most of the film when the credits roll you understand his placement in the story.
Vision was a film I was unprepared for and it was an ineffable experience. I still can’t fully elaborate on my feelings. It’s beautiful, it’s tragic as well as haunting. Do not miss your chance to watch it.